Tag Archives: celery

Chicago-Style Hot Giardiniera

Homemade giardiniera

Giardiniera is a spicy mixed vegetable pickle flavored with garlic and oregano that’s popular in my home town of Chicago where it is often served on Italian beef sandwiches. The name comes from the Italian word for “from the garden”, and you can see why:

Jarring the giard

I wish I could remember my giardiniera origin story, but I’ve loved this stuff for so long that I can’t remember where the love affair began. In my family, giardiniera is one of those “good with everything” foods that sits alongside ketchup and mustard and other condiments to always keep on hand. We love it on pizza and sandwiches, and I’ve recently discovered that it’s stellar with hummus. My love for giardiniera took on new heights when my sister and I learned to make it ourselves several years ago.

It had been a while since I made giardiniera, but a “relish platter” of epic proportions at last December’s Camont Christmas party reignighted my fervor. Granted, it wasn’t just the giardiniera, but the context of the situation: a happy day hallmarked by lots of cooking, good vibes, great friends and, the surprise element, an unlikely wine pairing that took the giardiniera to new levels of pickle heaven.

Wine revelation of the evening

The wine, chosen by my friend and wine enthusiast Neil, was a vin jaune, a sherry-like white wine made in the Jura region in eastern France. Unlike sherry, vin jaune is not fortified, but like sherry, it’s quite beautiful, especially with the right food.

Neil posited that his chosen vin jaune, a 2008 Domaine Macle, “would have the strength to battle pickled items and hold its own”. It totally did. Neil described the flavor of the wine as having “deep gold with notes of almond, bread dough and a lingering sweetness…dry, with a creamy mouthfeel while still remaining somewhat light”.

Cotes du Jura + Relish Platter = Unforgettable

I got the almond, and the sweetness, and the creamy mouthfeel (I aspire to have a pallet refined enough to pick up “bread dough” in my wine). All agreed it was a total treat and worked with the giardiniera amazingly well. For me, it took the giardiniera out of the bowl and turned it into an unforgettable story. They should write children’s books about these moments (just think of the illustration opportunities).

I enjoyed the experience so much I brought a bottle of vin jaune back with me which I’m saving for another yet to be determined giardiniera moment (pickle-themed dinner party, maybe?).

Cotes du Jura

Since Christmas I’ve been making a big jar of ‘giard’ every couple of weeks – one of these jars was polished off between Mehrunissa and I in a single evening (for the record, we felt amazing the next day!).  Giadiniera is very easy to make and once you get into the rhythm of it, you can knock up a jar in no time, tweaking the ratio of vegetables to suit your fancy (I like LOTS of cauliflower and carrots). You can also play around with the herbs. I like to keep it simple with oregano, but you could also add celery seed, chilli flakes, whatever inspires you. In France, Kate and I replaced some of the vinegar with pickle juice and rice wine vinegar (because it’s what we had to work with, such is the way we cook in Gascony!) which added a fun twist.

Christmas Giardiniera

You do need to brine the vegetables overnight and ideally let it sit for a few days to marinade. To be honest, there hasn’t been a single instance this year when I’ve been able to wait those three days to eat it.

Things I like with giardiniera include:

  • Omelettes (especially onion, mushroom and sauerkraut omelettes served with avocado)
  • Hummus (use giardiniera as a garnish)
  • Pizza topping
  • Mufaletta sandwiches
  • Veggie hot dogs (not that we should ever feel guilty about food, but this is totally a guilty pleasure)
  • Fried egg sandwich with mushrooms and avocado
  • On its own as a snack!

Hot Giardiniera

Feel free to adjust the quantity of vegetables to suit your liking. Once you’ve chopped everything and mixed it in a bowl, you can look at the mix and decide if you want to up the quantity of anything – I almost always add a bit more carrot and cauliflower. The red chilli flakes are optional – if your jalapeños aren’t very spicy, you might want to add them to up the heat factor a bit. As to chopping the vegetables, the size is up to you – sometimes life calls for a finely chopped giardiniera (great for putting on sandwiches, hot dogs, etc) but chunky giardiniera is best for the relish platter. 

  • 2 green bell peppers, diced
  • 2 red bell peppers, diced
  • 8 fresh jalapeno peppers, sliced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh cauliflower florets
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • water to cover
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper (optional)
  • 1 (5 ounce) jar green olives, sliced (optional, omit if you don’t like olives)
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup olive oil


  1. Place into a bowl the green and red peppers, jalapenos, celery, carrots, onion, and cauliflower. Stir in salt, and fill with enough cold water to cover. Place plastic wrap or aluminum foil over the bowl, and refrigerate overnight.
  2. The next day, drain salty water, and rinse vegetables. In a bowl, mix together garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, black pepper, and olives. Pour in vinegar and olive oil, and mix well. Combine with vegetable mixture – if the liquid doesn’t cover the vegetables, add some more olive oil and vinegar in equal proportions until the veg is totally submerged.
  3. Cover, and refrigerate for 2 days before using (if you can wait this long!).

Related links:

Hemp Protein Post Workout Smoothie

Hemp Protein Green Smoothie

This has become a favourite smoothie of mine as of late, especially after a good swim or a tough workout. Even without the hemp, it’s pretty killer. The base ingredients are pineapple, banana, spinach, celery, cucumber, lime and avocado, which when blended together taste like a tart-and-tangy treat, almost margarita-esque in its sweet and sour balance (hello salt-rimmed glass?). This is also good with a bit of fresh mint.

As far as post-workout nutrition is concerned, the smoothie has lots of good things going for it. The obvious element of good carbs, vitamins and nutrients from all the fruit and vegetables. Celery and banana in particular contain electrolytes (sodium and potassium) which you lose when you sweat. Meanwhile, the hemp and flax seed add a boost of protein. The avocado add fiber and make it creamy delicious.

When I swim in the morning, this is my go-to breakfast. It’s filling, nourishing, refreshing and super tasty. And to really splash out, garnish with coconut flakes, pumpkin seeds, bee pollen and – my favourite – a pinch of good salt such as Maldon Sea Salt or some of that fancy Himalayan stuff.

Hemp Protein Green Smoothie

I make this smoothie by juicing the veggie bits then blending with the hemp protein powder, avocado and flax seeds, but you can just as easily put everything in the blender with a bit of water and blend away. The juicer and blender I’m using at the moment the Froothie Optimum 400 Slow Juicer and the Optimum 9400 Blender, which together have been cranking out super silky results, but other blenders and juicers will work, too.

Hemp Protein Post Workout Smoothie

Serves 1

  • 1 stick of celery
  • 1/4 pineapple
  • 1/4 cucumber
  • 1/2 lime, peeled (or juiced if you’re using a blender)
  • 1 handful of spinach
  • 15g hemp protein (I use Naturya Hemp Protein Powder)
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 tsp flax seeds


  1. If you have a juicer, juice the celery, pineapple, cucumber, lime and spinach. Blend the juice with the hemp protein powder, avocado, flax seeds and a few ice cubes until smooth.
  2. If you don’t have a juicer, make sure everything is cut into blender-friendly pieces. Put the pineapple, cucumber and lime juice at the bottom of the blender, then add everything else. Add a enough water to blend everything to a smooth happy consistency.
  3. Serve with your choice of garnishes.

250 Calories | 8g Fat | 13g Fiber | 38g Carbs | 12g Protein

Grapefruit, Beet and Chilli Juice

Grapefruit, Beet & Chilli Juice

This is a new juicy creation I just had to share. It’s all about the tart grapefruit and spicy hot jalapeno chilli (be brave, folks). The juice is almost creamy and the concentrated flavour saturates your mouth – it’s incredibly satisfying, a breakfast in itself. The jalapeno is as good a wake-up call as coffee (really!) – you can use other chillies, red or green, to suit what’s available.

Consequentially, this juice is also great for hangovers.

Grapefruit and chilli super juice

Grapefruit, Beetroot and Chilli Juice

Serves 1

  • 1 grapefruit, peeled
  • 1 apple
  • 1in slice of beetroot
  • 1 small carrot
  • 1/2 lime, peeled
  • 1/2 zucchini (or cucumber)
  • 1 stalk of celery
  • 1/2 jalapeno (or more depending on your taste and the spiciness of your chillis)

Put the lot through your juicer, pour into a glass (over ice if you like), and enjoy!

My favourite thing to juice at the moment.

“Enzyme-Rich” Green Juice: The savoury smoothie

Clean detox day 6

My friend Shweta sent me a link to a few smoothie recipes that recently appeared in an Emerald Street newsletter (some kind of style and fashion newsletter, no wonder I missed it). One smoothie in particular caught my eye: an “Enzyme-Rich” juice full of green stuff: cucumber, celery, parsley, mint and spinach. So I gave it a try yesterday, adding a pear because my mind hasn’t yet quite grasped the idea of a smoothie without fruit in it.

The result was kind of amazing. I can’t say I’d have this smoothie every morning, but it does have its place in the lexicon of liquid breakfasts. It was particularly good after a hard workout – the cold, almost savoury juice, tart from the addition of lemon, is super refreshing. Not to mention hydrating… this recipe almost filled the jug of the Vitamix and I drank the whole thing.

“Enzyme-Rich” Green Juice
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 1

  • 350g spinach
  • 1 handful mint
  • 1 handful parsley
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice (about ¼ lemon)
  • 1 cucumber
  • 4 celery stalks
  • 2-3 cm piece of peeled ginger
  • 1 pear, cored

  1. Put everything in a blender with enough water to get it going.
  2. Blend on high for about a minute.
  3. Strain through a sieve if you’d like (I didn’t bother).
  4. Serve over ice.


Waldorf-Inspired Breakfast Salad

Heeding the call of the #vegan #breakfast #salad. Apple, celery, carrot, red onion, little gems, walnuts, chilli, mustard vinaigrette.

This has been breakfast the last few days, a sort of glorified vegan version of the classic Waldorf salad, inspired by this season’s apple harvest and a few stalks of celery lurking in my fridge. You could bulk this out with added quinoa, bulgar wheat, maybe a few raisins, or even a blob of yogurt, but I found this wasn’t necessary. As is, this was my idea of perfect breakfast: delicious food that satisfies without over-filling. Major feel-good factor here.

For one serving:

  • 1 apple, chopped
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • a few thin slices of red onion
  • 2 celery stalks, sliced
  • 10g walnuts
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • a few little gem lettuce leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • sliced green chilli (optional)
  • 2 tsp dijon-based vinaigrette (mine was the House Dressing recipe from Arthur Potts Dawson’s Eat Your Veg, but any mustard-based dressing would do – I love this honey mustard dressing recipe)

Mix it all together and serve.